According to the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes program, 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from fat. To find out the recommended minimum and maximum number of calories that should come from fat, multiply your total daily calorie intake by 25 percent and 35 percent (0.25 and 0.35). For example, if your daily calorie intake is 2,000, multiply 2,000 by 0.25, which is 500, and then multiply 2,000 by 0.35, which is 700. That means 500 to 700 of the calories you consume each day should come from fat.
This figure is helpful, but you can go further and find out how many grams of fat you can consume each day. The Nutrition Facts panel on food products lists grams of fat as well as calories from fat; similarly, recipes that provide nutrition information list the fat content in grams for one serving of the recipe. Since 1 gram of fat yields nine calories (regardless of whether it is saturated or unsaturated), you simply divide both 500 and 700 calories (given the example above based on a daily intake of 2,000 calories) by nine to determine the grams of fat. In this case, you should consume 56 to 78 grams of fat each day.
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes program also specifies how that daily fat intake should be divided among types of fat -- saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. Less than 7 percent of your total daily calorie intake should come from saturated fat. To figure the amount of fat (in grams) allowed from saturated fat, using our example of 2,000 daily calories, multiply 2,000 by 0.07 (7 percent), which is 140 calories. Then divide 140 by nine (since 1 gram of fat yields nine calories) and you get 16 grams of saturated fat. The same method holds true for figuring amounts of polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat.
To review, 25 to 35 percent of an individual's total calories should come from fats of all kinds. Most important, on the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes program, less than 7 percent of total calories should come from saturated fat, up to 10 percent from polyunsaturated fat, and up to 20 percent from monounsaturated fat. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes program does not specify a limit for trans fat, but the American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories. The table below shows how much total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat is recommended for various calorie levels.
|Total Fat in
|Saturated Fat in
Grams (Less Than 7%)
|Trans Fat in Grams
(Less Than 1%)
|1,600||44-62||< 12||< 2|
|1,800||50-70||< 14||< 2|
|2,000||56-78||< 16||< 2|
|2,400||67-93||< 19||< 3|
|2,800||78-109||< 22||< 3|
In order to meet these recommendations for fat, you probably need to change the proportion of different types of fat that you eat. You especially want to eat fewer foods that are high in saturated fat and trans fat and replace them with foods high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Since many high-fat foods are also high in saturated fat, you will automatically decrease your saturated fat intake when you decrease your total fat.
Find out which foods are high in saturated fat on the next page.
For more information about losing weight, see:
- Food Labeling: Everything you need to know to stick to your diet plan is on the label of the food you buy. Learn how to read those nutritional labels.
- The Facts on Fat: Fat is an essential nutrient, but some forms are more harmful than others. Learn about saturated fat, trans fat, and other types of fat.